Tips for When You Need Extra Time Away From Work

Helping hands image

The birth or adoption of a new baby, a chronic illness, or an ailing family member can necessitate taking time off from work.

Fortunately, U-M recognizes the importance of helping employees care for themselves and their families by providing generous paid time off allowances. 

Combining paid and unpaid time off from work can help employees balance the demands of life and work during a birth or adoption, illness, injury, disability or other qualifying circumstance.

When paid time off is exhausted and an extended absence is required, employees can request an extended period of unpaid leave.  

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is a federal law that entitles employees to be absent from the workplace for specific situations like childbirth or a serious health condition.

Jon Lund, UHR associate director of Labor Relations, offered these helpful tips to help employees understand how the university’s paid and unpaid time off policies can help maintain an income stream when circumstances such as a pregnancy or birth, an employee’s own illness, illness of a family member or another event requires an extended period of absence from work.

  1. The first questions to consider, says Lund, are ‘What paid time off do I have available to me to maintain my income?  And when will that end?’
  2. Look first at the paid time off available to you to cover the absence (short-term sick, extended sick, vacation, PTO or a combination of these.)
  3. If there is a choice of using short-term sick or vacation, it’s generally beneficial to use short-term sick because it renews annually and, unlike vacation time, does not roll over from year to year.
  4. When applicable paid time off is exhausted, you can request an unpaid leave of absence.
  5. Employees who qualify for the FMLA have important protections under the law. These include:
  • Time off when you need it to care for yourself or a family member during times of illness or other qualifying circumstances
  • Continued university contributions toward your insurance coverage
  • Assured return to work following an FMLA-covered absence
  • No negative employment consequences following an FMLA-covered absence

“The university strives to support employees in meeting the personal and family obligations recognized under the FMLA,” says Lund. Our biggest concern is that employees get their rights under the law.”

Resources for Understanding University Policies on Sick Time, Excused Absence and FMLA

U-M Standard Practice Guide Policy on Leaves of Absence

Employee Rights Under the FMLA (Federal government poster)

Your leave balances in Wolverine Access

Leaves of Absence Toolkit

Staff Handbook

FMLA Guidelines

Forms for Documenting an FMLA Qualifying Absence

Related News

Backyard view with two lawn chairs

2023 Holidays and Season Days

Plan your work and vacation schedules around these dates.